Material Conditions Series Part 11: Displacement

Each week we’re bringing you an in-depth look at one of the standard conditions we encounter and document during inspections of buildings and civil structures. 

Part 11: Displacement

Displacement refers to the shifting of masonry units out of their as-built position. Displacement can occur in the vertical plane, horizontal plane, or both.

Horizontal and vertical displacement in brick

Horizontal and vertical displacement in brick

Displacement occurs in brick, stone, terra cotta, concrete units or pre-cast concrete panels when the fasteners or mortar holding a masonry unit in place can no longer resist movement from thermal expansion, frost heave, seismic events, gravity, or other forces. Displacement is therefore a symptom of several different modes of failure and deterioration, such as water infiltration, pack rust formation, or mortar failure.

Horizontal and vertical displacement in limestone.

Horizontal and vertical displacement in limestone

Next in this series: Hollow Areas

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